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Through client and industry education, Cagwin & Dorward have established themselves as leaders in the difficult field of landscaping.
Cagwin & Dorward is located in California, which is currently going through the regions worst recorded drought in 1,200 years. While you may think this would be the end of the line for a landscaping company, Cagwin & Dorward has handled the current climate with aplomb.
“We started consciously working on better water management practices about a decade ago,” said Steve Glennon, President, CEO, and COO. “We educate our customers in the importance of managing water, and they are becoming very understanding of our current water situation.”
The full-service landscape company offers everything from landscape maintenance, installation, and tree care to water management and erosion control, making it a sustainable solution for customers in Northern California.
Hannah Hawkins, Customer Experience Manager, shared that Cagwin & Dorward takes several different approaches to disseminating water conservation information to its customers, including letter correspondence to inform customers of the water-saving solutions the company offers, drought news and information in the company newsletter, and updates on social media.
One of the most interactive ways the company shares water conservation efforts with its customers is through on-site lunch and learns, in which Cagwin brings lunch into the customer’s office and details the type of landscaping performed on site, as well as what the company is doing to help manage water usage.
Cagwin makes sure that its staff is educated, with all account managers becoming certified through the California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA) in a water efficient management program. Cagwin was an early adapter of the four-hour class and test, and shared that it has more certified landscape managers than most other landscape companies in the state.
The company has also facilitated several industry presentations with the California Association of Community Managers (CACM), Educational Community for Homeowners (ECHO), and others about drought and water management.
“What we’ve found is that there are many contractors in the state that tout the benefits of water conservation but very few contractors in each water district ‘walk the talk’,” Glennon said. “We’ve proven through the support of the community that we truly are a green landscaper.”
Cagwin is definitely walking the walk. Aaron Majors, Owner and Landscape Construction Business Unit Leader, shared that the company is doing more turf conversions with smart controller installations that conserve more water.
“It’s been a challenge at times—the expectation of typical communities is large green lawns. We’re tasked with getting people to recognize the change in aesthetic and the value of water.”
And the company makes an effort to be sustainable not just when it comes to water, but in their other business practices as well. In 2006, Cagwin & Dorward started acquiring hybrid vehicles for its managers, and now have over 30 in the fleet. The significant reduction in fuel costs is icing on the cake.
A company like Cagwin & Dorward has been able to survive hurdles like record-breaking droughts for its 60-year history because of its commitment to sustainability, customer satisfaction, and a committed employee base.
“A lot of great people work for this company. I take great pride in the fact that we have a lot of tenured employees—40 or so that have been with us for over 25 years,” Glennon said. “In a recent meeting, half of the 18 people in the room had been with the company for at least 10 years.”
“The typical tenure for managers in this industry is fairly short, but we’ve had the honor of retiring many employees.”
Glennon shared that it’s not just Cagwin & Dorward’s overall culture, but the fair workload that is distributed over 500 employees that encourages long careers at the company. Cagwin & Dorward also has a stellar mid-level management training program through an outside consultant that has been in place for the last 16 years. Since the program’s inception the company has put over 200 people through the courses, which focus on leadership components like encouraging communication and building collaboration skills.
In short, Cagwin and Dorward’s employee base is top notch. This is further demonstrated by the amount of volunteer work the company and its workers do. In the last year, Cagwin & Dorward agreed to sponsor a new program with University of California Davis (UCD) that will create opportunities to speak to students and support their education efforts.
Other creative volunteer work has included a community landscape installation at a local church, coastal clean ups and creek restorations, and another partnership with UCD to install the All-Star Garden at the Willow Shopping Center.
Cagwin & Dorward also creates opportunities for more local entities.
“We take a unique approach in partnering with customers to reduce the total cost of their renovations by bringing in non-profits,” said Aaron. “We’re paid to do the prep work, often the materials can be donated, and then a non-profit comes in and installs the new landscape.”
Opportunities like this will often cut the owner’s cost in half and create a great way for Cagwin to reach the public.
Glennon doesn’t think there is a secret to the company’s success. When it boils down, treating everyone as well as the company treats its customers has been a major component to its longevity.
Cagwin & Dorward History
Cagwin & Dorward was established in 1955 when Tom Cagwin, a graduate in Ornamental Horticulture from Cal Poly San Louis Obispo, formed a partnership with Dave Dorward, a Stanford Business Economics graduate. Their business goal was simple: To serve customers first and foremost.
Initially launched as a landscape construction company, the new enterprise began installing landscapes for high-end residential and commercial properties in Marin County, California. The company was incorporated in 1961.
In the late 1960’s the Landscape Maintenance Business Unit was created to support the construction installation projects. Today, the maintenance business is our largest revenue center.
In 1999 our Tree Care Business Unit was formed to provide tree care services for commercial and residential customers.
Over the years Cagwin & Dorward has established itself as a reputable, full service landscape service provider serving Northern California. Our corporate headquarters is in Novato and our service area includes 14 locations, from Santa Rosa in the north to Monterey in the south and east to Modesto and Sacramento.
Tom Cagwin and Dave Dorward retired in the early 1990’s and the company has passed on to the second generation of ownership. We remain a privately owned company consisting of eight owners.
P.O. Box 1600, Novato, CA 94948
Phone: 415-892-7710 or 800-891-7710